Buried in the Bemidji Pioneer article, GOP governor candidates debate at BSU; Seifert wins straw poll of attendees, we find this nugget:
They all said they would oppose an increase to the state minimum wage.
Minnesota's state minimum wage is among the lowest in the country, MinnPost's Briana Bierschbach explains in Minimum-wage primer: How Minnesota fell behind Wisconsin and other Midwest states:
Just eight years ago, Minnesota led in the Midwest on the matter of the minimum wage, offering $6.15 per hour to those working for the state’s large employers. Back then, that was about $1 more than most of the state’s closest neighbors.
But that leading position quickly faded in the region and across the nation. When the federal government increased its minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour by 2009, neighboring states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa quickly followed suit. Minnesota’s minimum wage didn’t budge. . . .
Minnesota led the Midwest in 2006 with a minimum wage rate of $6.15 per hour. The rate had been bumped up an entire dollar during the previous legislative session after a drawn out battle between Democrats who controlled the Senate, House Republicans and GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Democrats called for a $2 increase over several years, but Republicans and business leaders pushed back on that proposal. In the end, the governor agreed to a $1 increase because the wage hadn’t been changed since 1997.
Minnesota's last Republican governor signed a minimum wage bill, but this bunch isn't budging. Perhaps they're looking to Pawlenty's 2008 veto--or maybe not, since Pawlenty's veto message included a statement that he was willing to "increase in the minimum wage provided the bill included a tip credit," the Star Tribune reported at the time.
Tip credit? That suggestion might be enough to make Minnesotans pitch pennies again as Tom Emmer abruptly learned in 2010.
According to the Pioneer:
Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, special education teacher Rob Farnsworth, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and State Sen. Dave Thompson all took part in a mostly congenial debate in the American Indian Resource Center at BSU. Candidates Kurt Zellers and Scott Honour were absent from the event.
While Zellers wasn't at the BSU College Republican forum, he and Seifert did serve in the legislature when Pawlenty signed the 2005 bill. Unlike fellow Republicans still serving in the legislature who supported the 2005 hike--Bud Nornes, Seventh Congressional District GOP hopeful Torrey Westrom (then in the state house), Dean Urdahl, and Julie Rosen--Seifert and Zellers voted against it, according to MPR's VoteTracker.
Republicans rely on old-school thinking that minimum wage hikes hurt workers, but the New York Times recently reviewed The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage that illustrates the weakness of the conservative argument.
But perhaps one the Republicans can make the case to voters that prosperity is just around the corner if only we Minnesotans can just continue to be paid less.
Indeed, Bluestem's shocked that we're all not already filthy rich.
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